On the lighter side of construction, Budimex and refiner Lodos, a construction firm out of Poland, hit the headlines by introducing a new street construction product with one big design difference: the asphalt smells like flowers.
On the lighter side of construction, Budimex and refiner Lodos, a construction firm out of Poland, hit the headlines by introducing a new street construction product with one big design difference: the asphalt smells like flowers.
The green startup Nexii, based out of Pittsburgh, PA, also known as the "Steel City," offers an environmentally friendly concrete product that they say will be better than steel in some applications. Michael Keaton, the Pennsylvania native actor, joins Nexii to provide financial backing and a place in Trinity Sustainable Solutions. Trinity intends to implement Nexii's concrete product into Walmart, Rite Aid, Goodwill, and CSX Transportation.
Tech giant Apple intends to construct a new campus complex in San Jose that will cover 85 acres and include their north office. The building site contains a semi-permanent homeless encampment currently. Apple pledged to help the city deal with its homeless population.
Chinese construction companies are preparing to build a line in Datong, North China's Shanxi Province, in which they will test the world's fastest ground vehicle—a low-vacuum maglev high-speed train with a top speed of 1000 km/h (621 mph).
While architecture has always been built to resemble the natural world, biometric architecture, an emerging field in the industry, is looking to the way living flora and fauna thrive as a way to enhance construction. The architects in this field look at everything from mollusks to fungus for better ways to build.
The commercial real estate industry focuses on energy efficiency and sustainability. For example, a recent report shows that the smart building automation software and systems industry reached $20.5 billion in North America. Still, the focus is on the operational phase of the building’s life cycle, not the construction phase.
The U.S. Department of Energy launched a new initiative on July 7th that invests $6 million into adopting three proven nuclear power plant technologies. By forming a partnership with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, they hope to decrease costs by 10%.
Construction companies understand their industry’s tendency to adopt new tech at a snail’s pace; this makes construction a major target for new tech startups, but there’s a catch.
Every week, it seems like a new construction technology claims to revolutionize the industry. But are these technologies right for you, and will they succeed as the claimed magic bullets that completely revamp your workflow? Here are five questions to ask:
The University of Manchester and the British firm Nationwide Engineering plans to launch a new product: Concretene. Some consider it a gamechanger in concrete. Product creators tested Concretene on the construction of a gym floor in Amesbury, Wiltshire. Builders used 30% less material than standard concrete, without the need for steel reinforcement. Concretene creators claim that their product could save as much as 10-20% in costs.
As the founders of Build Change claim, it’s not the earthquake that kills people; it’s the collapse of poorly built structures. With the release of their new Intelligence Supervision Assistant for Construction app, they hope to save lives with open-source artificial intelligence.
Builders chatter about modular construction, particularly over the past few years. Even Warren Buffet entered the market with an ambitious venture into the technology. A new report projects modular construction to be worth $114 billion by 2028.
ABB, the Switzerland-based engineering group behind much of the world's automotive factories' robotic assembly lines, holds that the post-pandemic state of mass construction and labor shortage indicates a prime time to integrate robotics into the process.
The Swiss discovered a new way to get energy out of their dams, not through hydroelectric power. Axpo, a Switzerland-based company, partnered with power provider IWB, to use the broad, curved wall of the dam as a vertical surface for solar panels. The project's complexity lies in installing the panels 2,500 meters (8,202 feet) above sea level in the Alps.
Adroit Market Research announced that they expect the construction plastics market to reach $140.7 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.67%. Polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyethylene, polyurethanes, and other materials comprise the construction plastics market. Builders use these materials for various purposes, including roofing, walls and coverings, pipes and ducts, and windows.
Danny Forster Architecture, a New York firm, has partnered with MiTek Inc, a company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, to create the Modular Activation Platform (MAP); they intend to solve some of the main problems with modular construction.
On April 25th, the construction team, led by engineering and construction firm, Bechtel, added a massive cooling tank to Plant Vogtle Unit 4, one of only two nuclear power plants currently under construction in the United States. Located in Waynesboro, Georgia, this final crane lift marked the end of a significant phase of the project.
Carnegie Mellon University's professors Pingbo Tang and Burcu Akinci lead a team to design the National Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Construction; they work with other researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and over 40 industry partners.
Curri, a new company referred to as the “Uber of Construction,” gains investors as it seeks to disrupt a stagnant distribution model.
As part of a nuclear project out of Scotland, engineers adopt an innovative new concrete building tool they plan to use in floors, walls, and ceilings, all without rebar. Builders expect Steel Bricks, part of GE Hitachi’s (GEH’s) BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) plant, to reduce the required labor significantly.
Early in 2021, a mansion in Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, marketed as a solar-powered home, sold for $1525 million. The 112 solar panels on the roof generate enough power to operate the house for weeks or even months completely off-grid.
Many Hong Kong residents cite construction site pollution—dust, smell, noise, and heat—as "unbearable," especially in the hot and humid summer months.
Last year’s Lockdown and quarantine translated into a spike in home renovations, both in DIY projects and professionally done remodels. Many homeowners integrated green-home concepts into their plans: between March 2020 and March 2021, Google searches for “green home renovations” increased 112%. ConstructionGlobal analyzed Google search volumes to scrutinize the most significant trends.
Two bills, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December, set aside $190.5 billion to help schools. This money could represent significant changes in the architecture of future schools.
When working with reinforced concrete, there will always be the “rodbusters”, a highly skilled, yet underappreciated group of men and women who perform the tedious and backbreaking task of tying the rebar together every time they cross, either with wire or plastic. For a large project, like a bridge, this can mean many thousands of ties—all done manually. It is difficult, repetitive work that must be done, but often leads to injuries, particularly repetitive-motion injuries or back problems.
This week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, designating thirteen upcoming projects as "Infrastructure Gamechangers." These game-changers earned their status due to their transformative innovations in the way engineers plan, build, and adapt to infrastructure needs.
Three recent projects show innovation in 3D printed building. The first comes from Austin, TX, where the public can purchase the first American 3D printed homes. A development project in the California desert comes in second, where builders have announced the first 3D printed housing community. A Tennessee credit union that features a 3D printed façade takes the third spot.
With more companies and countries getting a toe-hold into space, it's only natural that a massive construction project intends to make big profits from future tourist space travel.
In her book, Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating (2019), Robyn Shotwell Metcalfe refers to the paradox of catching fish in New England, exported them to Japan, then shipping them back as sushi; this reveals a large and complex network, invisible to those who order Japanese takeout.
Around the world we have seen rising temperatures, growing to record numbers nearly every year of the last decade, and it’s got some entrepreneurs in India thinking: could we use ancient cooling techniques in modern structures?
Purdue University presented a new robot at the 2021 Technology Showcase: The State of Innovation. The new design integrates BIM (building information modeling) and construction robotics in a new way to reduce the time it takes to complete basic tasks and to make up for labor shortages.
Aside from Amazon’s other major news, including Jeff Bezos’s decision to step down as CEO, the online behemoth made waves in the architecture community on Feb 2nd when it unveiled plans for an Arlington, Virginia office complex.
The Federal Railroad Administration released information about the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Project (SCMAGLEV), a future endeavor to build a Maglev train between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The train would speed passengers between the two cities in as little as eight minutes.
In recent years, the construction industry has migrated toward modular construction. COVID-19 has escalated this shift. The data indicates an increase in worker safety for companies who use this type of construction.
An entirely different kind of construction project is just getting underway in the small town of Saranac Lake, NY. On January 28, 2021, volunteers began cutting more than 256 large blocks of ice from the lake in a ten-day-long project to build a Winter Carnival Ice Palace.
Forbes recently interviewed several major architecture firms to discover what these men and women envision for the future of the post-COVID-19 hospitality industry. Answers to the question varied, but all had a few things in common: more social distance, less contact, and more overt cleanliness. While it might not seem shocking, the specifics of their visions are interesting.
Following the Carbon Free Boston report in 2019, city officials are making carbon-neutral plans by 2050. Emissions from buildings account for more than 70% of the city’s emissions, Boston feels it’s time to clear the air.
Despite being behind the curve for adopting new technology, the construction industry is quickly trying to catch up with the rest of business as it expands into the digital realm. In just the last decade, construction has seen the advent of 3D modeling and realistic architectural visualization software, the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality on a massive scale, 3D printing, automation, machine learning, BIM and the Internet of Things (IoT). These things haven’t always been greeted warmly by either workers or company owners, but they are making an inexorable creep into the everyday lives of those in the construction world.
According to the Financial Times, the world of game design—referring specifically to video games—is taking a page from construction and architecture. It continues to expand and become more lifelike. It all comes down to how space is used, and then extrapolating from there into questions like: will the doors open in or out? Is there enough light? Where will people gather?
In early 2020, while the coronavirus was still restricted to China, the country moved at a lightning pace to quarantine Wuhan and combat the virus. The construction industry is now looking at how the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) managed to build two hospitals from the ground up in less than two weeks and what we can learn from their speed.
The publication Arch Daily recently published an op-ed questioning the long-held belief that using wood in construction is a more sustainable, more environmentally-friendly method. Wood is a renewable resource, which other materials, like steel and concrete, are not. It also contributes less of a carbon footprint during production: steel and concrete factories are notoriously bad for their emissions, while lumber milling is far less.
Branch Technology announced that it had closed deals raising $11 million in funding, bringing the tech startup’s total financing to $22 million. The firm uses that money to construct the largest fleet of 3D printers used in the construction industry.
Whether we’re looking at undersea tunnels, or bridges, or communication cables on the seafloor, human-made structures are encroaching on the seas and oceans at an ever-increasing rate. A recent study from Nature Sustainability has estimated that humankind has now built over 32,000 square kilometers or 12,000 square miles.
Climate change poses a threat that governments and city planners are starting to take seriously: according to a 2019 study, the global sea level could rise anywhere from two to seven feet by 2100. At today's population levels, that would displace more than 190 million people, a number that will only go up. "If our findings stand, coastal communities worldwide must prepare themselves for much more difficult futures than may be currently anticipated," the study warned.
Two pieces of art have emerged simultaneously, which have spurred Japanese national interest in reconstructing that nation’s largest wooden castle, which was destroyed in a fire 360 years ago. The Edo Castle tower, built-in 1457, burned down in the Great Fire of Meireki, which burned down 60% of the capital city Edo (now Tokyo) in 1657. While much of the large castle structure remains intact, the iconic tower was destroyed and never rebuilt.
Advances in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are improving accuracy, efficiency and safety at job sites. Where VR creates a fully immersive experience, AR takes the existing world and enhances it. Using both of these technologies, which are all part of the more extensive building information modeling (BIM) movement, construction companies can save time, reduce errors, and ultimately save money.
Construction is one of the largest industries in the world economy, making up 13% of the world’s GDP. Yet, construction is widely recognized as much slower than other sectors in adopting new technology. And while many new technologies appear in the industry, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics, there has been a reluctance to use these tools.
New artificial intelligence technologies at use in Europe can seamlessly track a project’s progress and see if it is falling behind schedule.
Plastic accounts for 19 percent of all municipal waste and is one of the chief environmental threats in the waste stream. Efforts to make plastic more reusable have been ongoing for decades, and many construction projects have found innovative ways to do so. The newest idea is to include used plastics in the makeup of asphalt.
Jeffrey Mansfield, a design director who was born Deaf, is keenly aware of how some architecture serves to set the disabled free and some stifles and traps them. Influencing work at the MASS Design Group put him on course to enter a multi-year course of research exploring how deafness has shaped space (or been shaped by it). For his work, he was recently awarded the Disability Futures Fellowship from the Ford Foundation.
The Tiny House Movement has been going for more than a decade. Recent world events have motivated some architects, builders and homeowners to build small, and a new competition is inviting any and all designers to make their mark.
On October 1, construction work began on a project that will be ten years in the making: a giant windfarm located offshore of Norway, at Kværner Stord. The project will build eleven floating concrete hulls that will house the turbines for a wind farm known as Hywind Tampen.
In a year that has been fraught with wildfires burning across the west, consuming hundreds of thousands of acres, a new app is being piloted in Arizona to locate the source of fires by mapping hundreds of construction sites.
Some cultures have architectural traditions that go back millennia (the first known architect in the world was Imhotep, who lived in Egypt in the 27th Century BC). It may be surprising to learn that China, which has a strong tradition of magnificent buildings, did not build with single architects or masterminds until the Ming Dynasty (roughly 1350-1650 AD). Before that, structures were created by a collective of builders and designers. This means that even the famed Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China were not overseen by a single master planner, but separated into small projects collaborated upon by teams of craftsmen.
According to Dodge Data and Analytics, nonresidential construction starts fell by 19% in the first five months of the year. In places where lockdowns were mandated, including construction jobs, work levels dropped as much as 80%. The Dodge study indicated that the delays were due to labor shortage, new safety procedures, and lack of materials and equipment due to transportation disruptions.
We’ve been writing about the labor shortage in construction for years. Still, when the coronavirus struck, and things were being locked down and socially distanced, new interest arose in what’s known as autonomous construction.
Core, a new app and online site, is designed to connect construction laborers with contractors and builders in need of workers. It has gotten the eye of several influential Silicon Valley investors.
Building Information Modeling was a new technology a few years ago that is now a universally accepted staple of the industry. It allows all the stakeholders in a project, from builders and architects to accounts and owners, to look at the process in real-time to see completed work and the challenges looming ahead.
The construction world has been slow to adapt to new technology but in recent years the boundaries of what is possible continue to be pushed. The problem, experts say, is finding people who are skilled in both the tech world and the construction world. It’s a rare skill set, but it’s becoming increasingly in demand as everything from BIM to robotics to virtual reality devices are pounding on the door of the industry.
Long a dream of those who are choosing to live and build off the grid, a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell is now available to supply heat and power. The first major introduction of the new technology is being implemented in the United Kingdom, but will have far reaching effects across the globe.
Calling to mind images from The Abyss or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, undersea adventurer Fabien Cousteau (son of legendary Jacques Cousteau) is planning the Proteus, the first undersea research station to be built in 34 years. Jacques Cousteau, who once lived in an undersea research station as an “oceanaut” for 30 days, dreamed of a day when living and studying under the waves would become commonplace. And new plans may be taking us one step closer to that dream.
Though air conditioners have long been the primary method of keeping cool, Covid-19 has taught us two things: we need more fresh air than we’ve been getting, and recirculated air means recirculated germs. And when we push our air conditioners harder and harder to keep buildings cooler, we’re producing a bigger carbon footprint.
Icon, a startup based in Austin, Texas, made news (and an appearance in this blog) last year when it became the first company in the world to 3-D print an entire neighborhood. The project took place in Mexico, creating small two-room homes as part of an affordable housing effort to help the homeless. The $35 million experiment was such a success that the company has raised a further $44 million in funding to bring their work to America.
In an effort to produce a more carbon-friendly concrete material, Texas A&M University has developed a 3D printing technology that not only has implications for construction here and now, but is thought to be one of the most viable ways to implement construction on Mars.
Tesla, the company behind the electric cars and the SpaceX launch vehicle that safely sent astronauts to the International Space Station and brought them back safely to earth, is now turning its eye onto the most substantial ever energy storage system, in Moss Landing, California.
Buildots, a new technology firm, eponymously named after the new invention they’ve created, announced this week that it has raised $16 million in funding.
Gaurav Sant, a professor at UCLA and director of UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management, is overseeing a project to convert carbon dioxide emissions into building materials. The project just received a $2 million, two-year grant from the US Department of Energy.
The new Canadian company Nexii has created a material that is 33% more energy efficient than concrete and that allows for rapid construction of buildings—including small, medium, and large structures. Based in British Columbia, the company says its new building material, combined with an improved design and assembly process, allows for buildings that are cost-efficient, durable and even disaster-resistant.
According to business consultancy group McKinsey & Co, the construction industry will radically change as it undergoes nine shifts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The report, The Next Normal of Construction, explains how “disruption is reshaping the world’s largest ecosystem.”
A 2018 study from Fails Management Institute (FMI), a management consultancy group, reported that 55% of engineering and construction firms were “actively seeking new technology solutions.” But at the same time, a 2019 study from Dodge Data and Analytics found that 90% of the contractors surveyed “do not specifically budget for innovation.”
Australian software company Atlassian is putting its new headquarters in a mass timber and steel 40-story building, which will be the world’s tallest “hybrid tower.”
Despite all the re-openings of the economy and the lifted restrictions, COVID is still with us, and testing continues to speed up, not slow down. But testing is in so much demand, especially in hard hit states like Arizona and Texas, where lines for drive-thru testing can be hours long, that many are looking for alternative testing sites.
The COVID pandemic, which to date has infected 2,000,000 Americans and killed 112,000, has slowed in many areas, which has led to many economies opening—some faster than others. But what all areas have seen over recent months is that for construction to continue, even post-coronavirus, technology will need to be a much bigger factor in the construction industry.
A material that has been used for millennia in construction doesn’t show any signs of stopping being useful in the modern era. Used for everything from scaffolding to bridges to waterways to entire buildings, bamboo has been used in Asia and South America for thousands of years. It has many benefits, not the least of which are that it’s very strong, very flexible, and grows extremely quickly.
While damage control and preparation is becoming an increasingly important factor in planning our cities, certain extraordinary circumstances are something we can’t plan for but which require quick architectural responses that offer aid to those affected—and often the difference is life and death.
In the annual Evolo design competition, this year focused on skyscrapers, the magazine made a timely decision to name the Epidemic Babel the 2020 winner. The skyscraper, which is designed by Chinese architects in response to the COVID-19 crisis, is designed to be built at a moment’s notice at the site of an outbreak—a kind of pop-up hospital that can take mass casualties.
The IT Network and security company Brash Concepts has begun adding thermal cameras to jobsites in New York City. The cameras measure the body temperature of workers to identify who may be running a fever (an early warning sign of COVID-19).
COVID-19 has led to substantial losses in nearly all industries, and construction is no exception. When the outbreak subsides, economic recovery will most likely be an elongated process. To shorten this period as much as possible, companies will need to take advantage of new construction technologies.
Businesses all over the globe are facing the ever-increasing challenge of keeping their employees safe and complying with safety guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. While many businesses have adopted work-from-home procedures and others have furloughed their employees or shut down completely, essential businesses, including construction, are still operational and finding it more critical than ever to manage the situation. And, as the country at large looks to reopen and get workers back to work, organizations will need solutions in place that can help them operate in the "next normal."
The construction magazine Construction Dive took an in-depth look at what is coming down the pipeline for jobsites in a post-coronavirus world. It listed eight things that it said will changing in coming months and years—some of which will be temporary but some of which will be permanent.
In 2006, in Tugela Ferry, South Africa, an extremely virulent, drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis raged through a hospital—and the building was partially to blame. The hospital was not designed for infection control. The transmission of the disease was through particles suspended in the air, inhaled by patients in a poorly ventilated building with overcrowded waiting areas.
Opened in 2014, One Central Park in Sydney Australia looks at first like a building overrun, the ruin of a high rise that has been overgrown in some future apocalypse. A park at the foot of the building literally continues all the way up the structure, as vegetation from more than 250 different plants and flowers cover the building. They look pretty, provide shade, and send a statement: this building is sustainable.
While construction continues in many states, social distancing is remaining a rule on worksites, and it often makes things difficult for workers to move around the building—and especially difficult for site managers to patrol them and make sure they’re following the rules. And not following the rules could, in many areas, land them heavy fines.
We’re already seeing semi-permanent changes being made to stores and gas stations: plastic barricades are going up to protect cashiers from the breath of customers and yellow lines are painted in parking lots to mark where queues should form to wait their turn to enter the store. It’s likely that we’ll see many more innovations in the coming months and years as we learn from this pandemic how to curtail future ones. But this isn’t the first time that architecture has changed radically because of mass sickness and disease. Just as COVID-19 is changing modern structures, 18th century tuberculosis, 19th century cholera, and 20th century Spanish flu forever altered the way architecture is used in cities.
COVID-19 has changed the country irrevocably and the fallout will last for decades if not centuries. There is no way to foretell all the many ways that the world will be different because of the pandemic, but some architects are looking to past styles when thinking about future construction. Everything old is new again.
Many entire industries are sheltering in place and working from home, but construction is one sector that is often referred to as ‘essential’, meaning that the workers have to continue on the job and do their best to maintain social distance. But new technology is right around the corner that may put workers at home, behind a desk.
We’ve seen many different attempts at reinventing the brick lately, as the production process of the material—and the energy consumption of brick structures—isn’t good for the environment. The Brick Development Association (BDA) says in their 2019 Sustainability Report that brick manufacturing is “energy intensive” and “involves firing clay bricks to over 1000 degrees C.” Another material that can be used to make bricks is concrete, made from water, sand or gravel aggregate, and cement. Over 4 billion metric tons of cement are produced annually which accounts for roughly 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. So, while bricks are an essential commodity for construction, new solutions to produce them is always being sought.
Project management software giant Procore Technologies Inc has held its cards close to its chest in the decision to go public, but last Friday the answer came forth loud and clear as the company filed the paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcing its plans for an initial public offering (IPO). No date for the IPO has been set, but they say it will happen in the “near future”.
While robots and autonomous equipment has been used for mapping and scanning jobsites, for the first time fully autonomous heavy equipment has been introduced and is getting ready to be put on the market.
If you were to guess which country on earth had the highest agriculture exports, you’d probably pick the United States, and you’d be right. But if you were to pick second place? Would it be Canada, with its vast land area? China, with their bustling export business? It would have to be a big country, wouldn’t it? Known for cutting edge technology?
What was once a material originally engineered for the construction of airplanes, thermoset technology is increasingly being contemplated in the production of not only specific building features, but the entire way buildings are designed.
Construction zones on roadways have always been dangerous, and many strategies have been tried to deal with them, including increasing fines for speeding in those areas, increasing patrols by law enforcement, and giving construction workers the power to tag and report reckless drivers.
On this blog we’ve covered the topic of sustainable construction and the carbon footprint of buildings before, to the point where it may seem like a broken record. But a new technology has turned the sustainable construction field on its head: fungus.
A new study by FMI Corp, sponsored by Procore Technologies, found that contractors are not only not taking advantage of existing technological advancements in their current work, but don’t have a plan in place to implement new technologies in the future. This is concerning, though not surprising, as construction has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology despite the promise of savings and efficiency.
As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, concrete and concrete production leaves a massive carbon footprint—approximately 6% of all carbon released into the atmosphere comes just from the laying of concrete. These new technologies are seeking to mitigate that in new and exciting ways.